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In 2016, Raymond James Ltd. set a goal to quadruple the $26.6 billion in assets under management (AUM) it had at the time. The firm didn’t set a deadline then, but today, CEO Jamie Coulter foresees hitting the $100-billion mark in the next two or three years.

“And that’s without an acquisition,” Coulter said. “We’re seeing good momentum on the recruiting side from a mix of non-bank and bank dealers.”

Raymond James had $76.7 billion in assets under administration as of Feb. 29, and has seen 42% AUM growth over the past five calendar years.

The firm has correctly predicted its AUM levels in the past. In January 2016, then executive vice-president Richard Rousseau told Investment Executive that he would “be disappointed if we don’t get to the $60-billion range within five years.” The firm achieved that goal, notching $59.1 billion in AUM as of Dec. 31, 2020, and $66.8 billion a year later.

Though Coulter is confident they won’t need an acquisition to reach $100 billion, he remains open to one. He’s particularly interested in firms that prioritize financial planning, he said.

Coulter said Raymond James’ last wealth management acquisition, which was of Montreal-based MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier Inc. in September 2016, was “almost a perfect match.”

The 3Macs deal added 72 investment advisors and $6 billion in assets to Raymond James, increasing its AUM to $33 billion and its advisor count to 450. Coulter said no 3Macs advisors have left since the acquisition, aside from those who retired.

Further, the firm’s rate of “regretted attrition,” which occurs when a valued employee leaves a company, is less than 1% annually among the advisor population, he said.

A more recent acquisition is that of Solus Trust, which closed in September 2023. Raymond James now has a national estate and trust presence, Coulter said, and many advisors are using the services to support their clients.

Raymond James has two other main goals. One is reaching 550 advisors by 2027, which was set in June 2022. The other is to reach 25% women advisors by 2025, which was set in 2017. The firm has 500 advisors today, 20% of which are women.

Coulter said a main tactic to reach these goals, particularly when it comes to increasing the number of women, is through the firm’s three-year-long advisor internship program that it relaunched about a decade ago. Coulter himself benefited from such a program when he first joined Raymond James’ predecessor firm, Goepel McDermid Inc. in 1995.

“It went so well we didn’t do it again,” he joked. “I’m the only one left [from that year], actually.”

The revamped program has two intakes per year, each with eight to 10 rookies. Coulter said about half the rookies are women. The program, run by manager of practice management Andrea Linger, requires candidates to have recently completed several industry courses, as well as three years of industry experience. As a result, the graduation rate is “north of 50%,” he said.

“Some individuals will join teams right away after they’ve gotten through their three years in the program,” Coulter added. “Others launch and build a practice here on their own.”

The program also attempts to address the compensation challenge inherent to breaking into the advisory business. The first year, rookies receive a $60,000 salary, plus commission equal to 50% of the revenue they bring in. The commission structure remains the same throughout the program but the salary falls to $40,000 in the second year and $20,000 in the third year.

Coulter said the firm also is looking for more ways to retain its middle- and back-office staff, and will launch a leadership development program for such staff in April. The program is headed by Robin Ayoung, senior vice-president and head of human resources, who joined Raymond James in September 2022.

The firm’s executive team has seen other recent changes. In February, Samantha Ouimet was named senior vice-president, corporate communications and marketing, replacing Peter Kahnert, who retired in December.

Also in December, the firm announced that Sybil Verch, executive vice-president and head of private client services, would return to being a financial advisor in Victoria, B.C. She was succeeded by Jennifer Hodgson, senior vice-president and head of wealth solutions (as well as CEO of Solus Trust), and Christopher Cafley, senior vice-president, head of private client solutions.

Raymond James also plans to upgrade the technology underpinning its brokerage platform, and will soon be assessing potential vendors.

“The last time we made an investment of this magnitude was two-plus decades ago,” Coulter said. The firm will select its provider later this year, “and hopefully that sets us up for the next 10 to 15 years.”